Is lifting weights safe for my kids? Will it stunt their growth?

Question of the week

“Is lifting weights safe for my kids? Will it stunt their growth?’’

I’m a strong believer that young kids must first dive in many sports. Each one of them brings different strength: coordination, team or individual play, tactics, new movement patterns, etc. For me, early sport specialization is the worst thing you can do to them. Learning new movement skills at a young age is imperative. Focus on developing fundamental skills at an early age. They will have a larger base to grow from. I couldn’t care less of what your kid’s coaches say. All they want is to capitalize on your kid’s “early talent” to better their organization or team by getting more kids in to increase their revenues. If a coach is telling you that your son or daughter needs to specialize instead of developing, he may be more concerned with chasing a trophy than your son’s or daughter’s wellbeing.

“Every child needs to learn how to swim, ride and fight.” – Helio Gracie

In fact, a new study by the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health which included over 1,500 high school athletes found that athletes who specialized in one sport were twice as likely to report a lower extremity injury as compared to those who played multiple sports. It was also found that 60% of athletes that specialized in one sport sustained a new lower extremity injury.

“88% of college athletes participated in more than one sport as a child.” – Dr. Greg Schaible

There is always this old myth about how strength training can stunt growth, but in fact, there is no scientific evidence to support that belief. What is supported by scientific evidence and research is that properly designed and supervised resistance training programs have numerous benefits for kids, including: increasing strength and bone strength, lower fracture risk and lower rates of sports-related injury, growing self-esteem and interest in fitness. Dr. Avery Faigenbaum of the University of Massachusetts says that concerns about weight lifting and the possible growth stunt of children and teenagers are outdated and misleading. He suggests that eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly allow you to achieve your maximal height, with inactive, unhealthy eaters more likely to have stunted growth.

Coach Eric

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